Monday, November 10, 2008

Recent movies - Army of Shadows, Get Smart, Another Thin Man, How the West Was Won

Army of Shadows (1969)

An impressive film. Oddly paced at times (I was interested, but puzzled, by the inclusion of the lengthy night drop sequence). I took special notice of the sophisticated camera movements, which seemed innovative to me for a 1969 film (perhaps someone with a decent knowledge of cinematography can tell me whether or not Melville and his team were doing something ahead of their time). Despite the fancy camera work, the acting and mood of the film was subdued and objective, though there is a scene early on that forces the viewer to watch via several close-ups. I was reminded emotionally of a similar scene in The Wind That Shakes the Barley. The color palette was interesting as well. As you can see in the above screen-capture, everything has a tinge of blue and brownish purple.

Get Smart (2008)

Fun. Had enough funny parts to make it worthwhile. A couple groaners (David Koechner and Alan Arkin had all the worst lines, for some reason). I still anticipate a day when Steve Carrell's style will stop being funny to me, but for now, I still enjoy him. Anyone else notice that Anne Hathaway's voice gets a little nasal and nerdy-sounding sometimes?

Another Thin Man (1939)

Same enjoyable formula. New to the mix was The Baby. Notable scenes include an elaborate gun trick that is begging for a segment on Mythbusters, a couple brief appearances by Shemp Howard, and an impressive dance.

How the West Was Won (1962)

Really impressive visuals, really forgettable story-lines. Enough beautiful vistas to make John Ford jealous. The effort Warner Bros. put into restoring and cutting together the three separate images for the Blu-Ray should be loudly applauded. The image is spectacular. For those unfamiliar with the film, it was shot for Cinerama theaters, meaning three separate cameras were used to film each scene simultaneously, and the image was then projected by three different projectors onto a curved screen that simulated our field of vision that was a bit wider than the regular movie screen. I wish I could have experienced it. On Blu-Ray, the image is flattened into a very wide and a bit distorted picture. For the most part, it's not distracting, but occasionally characters on the sides of the frame will not appear to be looking at the characters in the center.

The plot concerns a bunch of different characters and their individual stories concerning westward American expansion. They all interweave eventually, but none of them were all that interesting, despite the impressive cast. My favorite was George Peppard's story towards the end, mostly because of a spectacularly staged shoot-out on a moving train with Eli Wallach's gang. There were some really impressive stunts! My favorite was a guy falling off the train and knocking over a giant cactus.


Nobody said...

Nice comparison of the Melville scene with Wind that Shakes the Barley.

I didn't realize HTWWW was a cinerama movie. I think I saw it as a little kid but it was probably pan and scan so I'd like to see the wide-wide-widescreen version.

Nice screenshot too: according to IMDB Lee Can Cleef didn't even get a credit!

P.S. I finally gave in and started blogging again.

Nobody said...

Oh yeah, I was going to say that for the entire length of Get Smart I kept thinking how Anne Hathaway looks like Brandon Routh in drag.

I suppose a nicer way of saying that would be that Brandon Routh looks like he could be Hathaway's sister.

Ryan said...

Re: your blogging - Hurray!

Re: Van Cleef - If I'd only read the cast sheet before seeing the movie, I would have been prepared for the best movie ever: Hannibal Smith from the A-Team vs. Tuco from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? Atticus Finch vs. Indians? Karl Malden vs. Col. Mortimer and Stumpy? And it has Jimmy Stewart playing a mountain man, though that's less of a draw.

Re: Brandon Routh - ouch.

lightyear8 said...

RE: How the West Was Won
"Enough beautiful vistas to make John Ford jealous."
John Ford was one of 4 directors on the film. ;)

Ryan said...

Well then that make sense, doesn't it? (Someone didn't do their due diligence when writing the post.)

But more importantly, I'm thrilled to have a comment on my blog! I don't deserve one.